La Culture de Montreal – Part I

So, one of the things that I do around here to keep sane (arguable) is to try to escape (somewhere) at least once a day.  I usually try to do this while Benjamin is at school in the mornings.  I like to either go for a run around the neighborhood or walk around the shops in the area.  Overall, I think I love the people of Montreal; although my view of these people might be a bit skewed.  It’s like living in Disneyland and saying I love Americans!  However, I have learned a few lessons while I am here about living in Montreal, so I am happy to share them with you.

They say the fastest muscle in the human body is the muscle in your eyelid, which is the case for most people.  However, the fastest muscle in the Montrealer’s body is in their wrist.  Yes, I know…this is quite shocking!  They have an insanely quick ability to flick their wrist and hit the horn of their car within a nanosecond  of a streetlight turning green.  In most cities, you would assume that there is a parade going on because of all the honking and carrying on, mais non (you see that bilingual action), not here.   The Montrealers honk at any little vehicular infraction.  Sometimes they honk just because they thought you were going to do something stupid, which I appreciate because it is very proactive and I support forward thinking.

Having said that, I have had to come to terms with the fact that the roads here are not necessarily safe for the average pedestrian.  I only go out on the main drag if I am willing to embrace the possibility of death that day.  For example, when I tried to cross the street this morning, there was clearly a walk sign telling me that it was ok to cross the street.  However, there were eight angry vehicles aware of my light, but they didn’t want to let me cross the street at that time, so I had to make a decision to be either be right or to live.   I think I made the right choice.  As long as you know what you are getting into, life here is easy…you compromise…you live to see another day.  Having said that, any time I  do cross a street, I do it like a  paranoid LSD wallpaper licker (is there such a thing???).  I get whiplash from whipping my head around to look for oncoming vehicles.

Another interesting thing I discovered down here is when you are waiting for a walk sign, normally you wait, you walk across the street, and then you wait on the other side for the next light and walk again.  I happened to notice people looking at me strangely one day after I’d waited, walked, and waited again, which is not surprising because when I run I don’t exactly Lulu myself up very much – more like Walmart meets homeless.  Anyways, on further investigation I noticed that all four walk signs go off at once.  What!!!  Mais oui – it is true!  What a fool I had been!  No wonder people were looking at me like I was crazy.  What kind of weird system is that???  However, when I tried to do it a few blocks later,  it was the old system signs, so I almost died yet again.

The third thing to make me stop in my tracks and say to myself “my God – who are these people?” occurred one morning just after I got here.  I decided to go for a run, but it was freezing out,  so I decided to go look for a sweatshirt or something warmer to buy.   I went to the gift shop in the hospital next door.  Unfortunately, there were no shirts or sweatshirts of any kind, but there were (wait for it……) three different types of sardines – HALF SOLD OUT!  Mon Dieu – WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!!!   What kind of people check into a hospital and say….”well I am warm enough, but I will definitely be needing some sardines”???  “oh really, I will get some – would you like grilled, lemon and olive oil, or sardines in tomato sauce?”  Ya see what I mean?  You think you know what makes people tick, then something like this happens. I just don’t get it.  (* note: I actually wrote this a week ago and I checked again today – stock is definitely going down.*)

Anyways, as I am typing this, I realize there is much more about Montreal culture that I have to say.  I may have to do a Part II to this one.    I will leave you with this final shocking revelation.  I went into a store the other day called La Burueau de Gros – which I put through my intuitive and handy mental translator as being A Chest of Grossness.  I went in because I HAD TO SEE WHAT THEY HAD!!!   Who wouldn’t?   I was super excited – I thought I could buy Ben a gift that would really freak him out.  Major disappointment – it was Staples!!!  Jaw Drop!  (I know!)  How does that work?  What a deceiving name!

So, to summarize:

  • 1) Montrealers are the nicest people in the world
  • 2) But they’ll run you over if you get in their way
  • 3) Don’t trust the walk signs here – they are trying to seduce you to your death
  • 4) These people have a barbaric and confusing love for canned fish
  • 5) Staples should be sued for pretending to be super cool in French

So, we did Ben’s xrays today.  I haven’t had a chance to talk to the doctor yet, but I should be able to find out more tomorrow. 


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10 thoughts on “La Culture de Montreal – Part I

  1. Ben (old Ben) sent me your blog today and I sat down and read the whole blog in one sitting. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, know that we are thinking about you!

    1. Thanks Katie! So nice to hear from you! From what I hear, you’ve been working crazy hard this year!!! Hopefully we can get together when I’m back for a visit (and some wine). 🙂 Say hi to Old Ben and the kids!


      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Karen, you are a hoot with a true gift for writing. I totally enjoy hearing your take on things.

    1. I’m super embarrassed to say that I have not yet had poutine in Montreal. I am doing research and will try to find somewhere in the area. I did however buy a winter hat that says Poutine, which I know is false advertising, but I’ll work on making it happen! 🙂

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